KNOXVILLE—A Lenoir City (Tenn.) High School boys soccer player, banned from playing any sport at the school through graduation for “punching” an opposing player, could transfer to another school in Tennessee and continue his athletic career, Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association (TSSAA) assistant executive director Matthew Gillespie told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Monday.
The player in question was identified as “goalkeeper” in a TSSAA report outlining the penalties on Saturday.
“The goalkeeper in question is only ineligible at Lenoir City, because that is the action the school took,” Gillespie wrote in an email. “We accepted their action. If he were to transfer to another school, that (penalty) would not be in place. However, all other eligibility rules (including the transfer rule) would be in effect.”
The news comes less than a week after the goalkeeper was ejected for “striking a Farragut player with a closed fist” in the side of the head during a game played at Lenoir City on April 19. The player has not been identified by either the TSSAA or Lenoir City High School officials.
Lenoir City athletic director Greg Boling confirmed on Saturday the player is not a senior.
Gillespie said the player would need a bona fide change of address and “meet all other eligibility requirements” to become eligible next season.
“I’m not sure if he was a freshman, sophomore or what,” Gillespie said by phone.
The incident occurred following a penalty kick with “about 15 minutes” remaining in Tuesday’s game. In the aftermath, Lenoir City banned the player in question from participating in any sport at the school for the remainder of his high school career for what the TSSAA letter referred to as “punching” the Farragut player.
Lenoir City’s soccer program also was fined a total of $1,500, stripped from postseason play for this season and placed on one calendar year’s probation in the wake of the incident. Three additional Lenoir City players also were suspended for three games by the school after receiving red cards during the game.
Boling said one of the red cards happened before the incident, and the other two ejected “were not involved in any physical confrontation.”
Farragut soccer coach Ray Dover said on Saturday his player who was punched will be sidelined “a couple of weeks” while undergoing concussion testing as a precaution. Dover could not say for sure whether or not his player suffered a concussion.
Dover did not identify the player, but said “from my understanding” the player’s family will not press charges.
Farragut athletic director Don Dodgen said Monday his school still has not received its TSSAA letter. He said Farragut players did not leave the bench during the incident, but two assistants did in an effort to separate players.
The incident resulted in the second fine involving unsportsmanlike conduct for the Lenoir City boys soccer program this month. The TSSAA also penalized the program $500 after Lenoir City coach Santiago Correa prematurely removed his team from competition during an April 2 game against Sevier County.
Sevier County coach Bryan Atchley said on Saturday the exit came with 28 minutes, 31 seconds remaining on the clock.